White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients is stepping down from his post in April and will be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha.
The White House says the change comes at “a new moment in the pandemic,” adding that Zients and his deputy, Natalie Quillian, leave behind an infrastructure that is “ready to continue delivering high-protection and respond to future variants if needed.”
A practicing physician, Jha led research around Ebola and has been involved in the COVID-19 response by advising state and federal officials on pandemic preparedness.
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Jha was named the dean of the Brown School of Public Health after leading the Harvard Global Health Institute and teaching at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. Jha previously was a general internist with the West Roxbury VA in Massachusetts.
President Biden touted Zients’ work since the beginning of his administration, saying “there is no one better at delivering results than Jeff.”
Biden said Thursday that Zients put his “decades of management experience to work formulating and executing on a plan to build the infrastructure we needed to deliver vaccines, tests, treatment, and masks to hundreds of millions of Americans.”
Zients was previously a co-chair to the Biden transition and has worked at Facebook, The Advisory Board Company and CEB.
During the Obama administration, Zients served as director of the National Economic Council and as the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.
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Biden touted that nearly 80% of adults are fully vaccinated and more than 100 million have received a booster shot.
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Biden called Jha “the perfect person for the job,” a “well known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence.”
“But our work in combating COVID is far from done,” the president said, adding the need to provide more vaccines and boosters, to get vaccines approved for young children, improve how schools and workplaces “cope” with COVID, and take “special care” to protect the vulnerable from the virus, “even as many restrictions are lifted.”